Skip to main content

Meet NAKASEC – Tony Choi

By July 22, 2011No Comments

Do you ever wonder who the people at NAKASEC and our affiliate centers, KRC and KRCC, are? Not just the staff, but the community members, volunteers, interns and board members? Well they are the ones who keep us grounded, help drive our campaigns and keep us motivated. You may have seen our seniors on the State Capitol fighting against budget cuts, our young people dancing, singing and shouting out for youth rights, our children playing poongmul (Korean drums) at rallies and marches.

Well, in order for you to get to know us better, we are rolling out our #meetNAKASEC Fridays where we will profile one person within our network. We hope you enjoy!

To kick things off is Tony Choi. It’s very nice to “meet” you!


Q: What’s your name?
A: My name is Tony Choi.  For mnemonics, I sometimes point to my toe and knee.  Fun fact: I got named after a dog I had when I had to come up with an English name for an English class in Korea.

Q: Where are you from?
A: All over!  Born and raised in Seoul, I am your typical 1.5 generation-er.  I still miss Hawaii after living there for a year, but really, I’m a Jersey boy representing the 201.  I go to Berea College in Kentucky, so I s’pose I got a bit of that Bluegrass spirit in me as well.

Q: Are you affiliated with NAKASEC, KRC and/or KRCC?
A: I guess I represented NAKASEC at the press conference I did at Washington D.C., but I am an intern at KRC for the summer.

Q: What kind of work do you do with KRC?
A: I am the immigrants right intern here at KRC, but I also work with the Summer Youth Empowerment Program.  By mornings and evenings, I am a community organizer,  By day, I am a pseudo-parent to fourteen youth in Los Angeles.

Q: Why do you do the work that you do with KRC?
A: I decided to apply for an internship here because I wanted learn how to organize in a Korean American context and in an urban setting.

Q: Is there a recent program, event and/or campaign you were recently involved with that stands out to you? If so, what is it and why?
A: I think the Choi family case stands out.  I’ve signed petitions for countless DREAMer deportation cases, and I’ve seen the deportation cases from the sidelines as my mentor in Kentucky, Erin Howard, worked hard for their stays, but the Choi family case put the problem of DREAMer deportations in a Korean American context, and it also showed me how much planning and work goes into a deportation prevention case.  And I’ll give a shoutout to Jane and Olivia: the press conference in Washington D.C. with Representative Gutierrez was a truly remarkable experience that I can now bank on.  Through that experience, I am closer to being more like the other APIA DREAMer heroes who have bravely spoken out.

Q: If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be and why?
A: This is a tough question.  I think I would probably trade places with me ten years in the future.  I want to see how my hard work pays off, and I know I’ll be someone that someone like me would look up to in ten years (maybe twenty).

Q: What is your comfort food and why?
A: When I get back home from school, I always have certain food items that I crave: patbingsu, jjajangmyeon, Korean and Chinese pastries, and nengmyeon to name a few.  But for ease of access all over, I’ll say it’s gum.  I have a whole stash on my desk to chew when I…

a) am hungry

b) get nervous

c) have bad breath.

d) feel tired

e) feel blah


Follow Tony on Twitter – @TonyKChoi
Read his NY Story to LA Arirang blog

Meet other folks at KRC, KRCC and NAKASEC!